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Why I usually stay out of the income ineqality discussions

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  • Why I usually stay out of the income ineqality discussions

    ** First, I'd like to ask Paprika to not post in this thread. I just don't want to break my rule about responding to him ***

    I don't like to advertise this much, but I think with the swirling discussions of Obamacare and other wealth distribution threads, I thought this would be a good place to make a few comments on my personal situation and why I do not like to get into income inequality discussions.

    First, I am in no means wealthy from a US standpoint, nor have I ever been anywhere close. In my 21 year marriage, I have been on government assistance more than once, lost my house to a deed in lieu of foreclosure, been on unemployment for 6 months a few years ago, wife on unemployment for over a year just before mine, qualified for reduced lunches for my kids, had to rely on the generosity of church to eat and pay the bills more than once, lived in a government subsidized apartment, sat outside in the food pantry line, and I still owe over $100 K in debt (without owning the house I live in - I rent). In the over two decades of financial struggle, I have never once demanded what anyone else has, especially my wife's parents.

    My wife is an only child. Her parents adopted her at the age of 5 when they were both established in their careers in their mid 30s. They are both now approaching 80, and have amassed a substantial amount of wealth. As of their last meeting with their broker, they have a net worth of almost $25 Million. They are extremely tight with their money, and the few times they have agreed to help us, it was with a loan, not a gift, and came complete with hours of lectures on irresponsibility and poor financial planning. We have paid most of it back though because they are not the type to stay quiet when they are owed something. They both came up dirt poor working on their parents' farms, and have worked very hard for what they have earned.

    So, with that out of the way, in my lifetime, I will have the benefit of being both dirt poor, wondering where I am going to be living in 2 weeks, and being pretty well off, when the Lord takes my in-laws home. I don't like discussing wealth inequality because I know what it is like to be on the side of desperate need and I know what it is like to be pretty close to being relatively wealthy. I know I did not want to demand anything that anyone else had worked hard for just because my family was in need. I also know I do not want to be forced to give what I have to someone else just because they are in need. That will come from my heart, as we have plans to be a blessing to some others who helped us along the way. The perspective I have is tempered by my understanding of what someone in desperate need goes through and through knowing that I will one day have the ability to help a little bit.

    So, that is why I do not like to discuss income inequality. Because I don't think forced giving is right. it was shameful for me to consider when I was in need, and it would only anger me when I am in plenty. Hopefully, I have made some sense.
    That's what
    - She

    Without a clear-cut definition of sin, morality becomes a mere argument over the best way to train animals
    - Manya the Holy Szin (The Quintara Marathon)

    I may not be as old as dirt, but me and dirt are starting to have an awful lot in common
    Stephen R. Donaldson

  • #2
    I don't have a problem with government assistance given to those who really need it. A lot of those on it seem to be those that are not even trying to make it on their own or to get off of it, and yet think they are owed an income complete with cell phones and wi-fi and other luxuries. Or they take the money they earn under the table to buy expensive items, while also taking from the government. Those type of people are basically leeches. I saw a lot of that back in the hills where I come from. There were people who lived in trailers, claimed welfare or disability, and had brand new pickup trucks and satellite dishes in the front yard. In fact my own aunt is one of them. She claims she can't work because she has bad eyes and couldn't use the computers at work (DMV), and collects disability. But she lives in a nice home with her daughter, and spends all of her time on the computer and facebook.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm a little confused. If you were on government assistance, then weren't you, in a way, accepting something that someone else was forced to give?

      I don't really have hardcore views on the subject one way or the other, but I was raised in a blue collar family that went through times of desperation (living in cars, in garages, on the kindness of strangers, etc), and I know what its like to be dirt poor. I know what its like to not have any money, and I know what its like to be unemployed for long stretches of time. Not worrying about having a roof over your head, or where you're going to get your next meal is a huge relief for so many people. It seems to me only practical that, as a society and as a community, we help those out who sincerely need the help, whether we want to give or not. Its just civil to do so. For that person who needs the help, they don't care who's offering the help, or where its coming from, as long as the help is being offered by somebody. When you need to feed your kids, it doesn't matter if its the church down the street offering you food, or the government. It matters that your kids are getting fed.

      What I do find...odd...I guess about this topic is how Christians in America seem to politically lean further in one direction than the other direction on this issue. That's how its perceived anyways. And I don't know if that makes a whole lot of sense to me. The needs of the poor is something that Christians ought be intimately concerned with. The church should be filling that need. Often times it does. But I think it could be argued that where the church is unable to fill that need, we should support (to some degree) other solutions. I think Christians are often caught in the polarizing effect of the two party political system in America. You're sometimes considered a bad Christian if you don't toe a particular party line, even when scripture can legitimately be interpreted in a way that either/neither supports or opposes that party line.

      Comment


      • #4
        The thing I'm concerned about is that "wealth corruption" (i.e. criminal bank bailouts, QE, wallstreet corruption, crony captalism, etc.) is getting obfuscated by "wealth inequality" and vice versa. The political left is so focused on wealth inequality, they're not focused on the real threat which is wealth corruption. Whenever someone brings up the problem of wealth corruption to those on the political right, this gets confused with the complaints of wealth inequality.
        "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

        Comment


        • #5
          I appreciate the info, Bill... always helps to understand a little bit more about "the other guy".
          "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Adrift View Post
            I'm a little confused. If you were on government assistance, then weren't you, in a way, accepting something that someone else was forced to give?
            In a way, yes. Which is one of the reasons I made that known. I can understand what it is like to be on the side of immediate need. And that's also why I tend to stay out of the discussions, because it is treated as such a haves/have-nots issue instead of one of people. Also, accepting help where it is offered isn't necessarily the same as forcing someone to help you. It's a subtle difference, but I think Sparko's example drove the point home. There are many types of people on assistance, so I have very little problem helping, or being helped, if the need is genuine. But I do not believe it should overly burden those who are doing the helping. The point of contention I have is enforced servitude to the point of outright wealth redistribution in a vain attempt to level the playing field.

            I don't really have hardcore views on the subject one way or the other, but I was raised in a blue collar family that went through times of desperation (living in cars, in garages, on the kindness of strangers, etc), and I know what its like to be dirt poor. I know what its like to not have any money, and I know what its like to be unemployed for long stretches of time. Not worrying about having a roof over your head, or where you're going to get your next meal is a huge relief for so many people. It seems to me only practical that, as a society and as a community, we help those out who sincerely need the help, whether we want to give or not. Its just civil to do so. For that person who needs the help, they don't care who's offering the help, or where its coming from, as long as the help is being offered by somebody. When you need to feed your kids, it doesn't matter if its the church down the street offering you food, or the government. It matters that your kids are getting fed.
            And that I can relate to. But I think I would have had a hard time accepting half of someone else's groceries just so we could have the same amount of food in order to be considered "fair". Or even 25%.

            What I do find...odd...I guess about this topic is how Christians in America seem to politically lean further in one direction than the other direction on this issue. That's how its perceived anyways. And I don't know if that makes a whole lot of sense to me. The needs of the poor is something that Christians ought be intimately concerned with. The church should be filling that need. Often times it does. But I think it could be argued that where the church is unable to fill that need, we should support (to some degree) other solutions. I think Christians are often caught in the polarizing effect of the two party political system in America. You're sometimes considered a bad Christian if you don't toe a particular party line, even when scripture can legitimately be interpreted in a way that either/neither supports or opposes that party line.
            I think the difference between situationally poor and decisionally poor is missed by many. This is part of what I am talking about with calling it a "haves/have-nots issue".
            That's what
            - She

            Without a clear-cut definition of sin, morality becomes a mere argument over the best way to train animals
            - Manya the Holy Szin (The Quintara Marathon)

            I may not be as old as dirt, but me and dirt are starting to have an awful lot in common
            Stephen R. Donaldson

            Comment


            • #7
              My guess is that this thread was at least partially inspired by my mention of income inequality the other day. Admittedly in that context I did bring it up in the context of distributive healthcare, but I think the issue of income inequality can be considered apart from those factors. The general tenor of Scripture seems to frown upon it, especially to extremes, so it can at the very least cause us to pause and ask ourselves if we act with favoritism on a personal level as James warned us not to do (James 2:1-4), and ask if we are living with kingdom values.

              Nobody here did this, but I think it's unfortunate that anybody who brings these issues up sometimes gets labeled as a Marxist or something like that (even if they're not calling for political reform!). Craig Keener mentioned that tendency in his Matthew category, and he came across as downright furious about it.
              "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                My guess is that this thread was at least partially inspired by my mention of income inequality the other day.
                No. I've been discussing this at work for the last week.
                That's what
                - She

                Without a clear-cut definition of sin, morality becomes a mere argument over the best way to train animals
                - Manya the Holy Szin (The Quintara Marathon)

                I may not be as old as dirt, but me and dirt are starting to have an awful lot in common
                Stephen R. Donaldson

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bill the Cat View Post
                  No. I've been discussing this at work for the last week.
                  Ah. Yeah, some people have really simplistic views on the subject, not realizing that redistribution does come at a real cost.
                  "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The start of all sorts of financial corruption happens nine times out of ten when you start listening to the voice in your head that ends sentences with "and once I got my sure thing going, I'll never have to work hard or do anything difficult again..."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have never been really bad off except while in college. I have been on unemployment (back in the day when you had a very limited time and had to document a search for employment) and I was on food stamps for a while when I first moved into town from the bush. I have no problem with the way those worked back in the day. I do not see a cell phone as a necessity, and I do not see any problem with limiting the time for unemployment to a reasonable length. I, too, only have a problem with the freeloading mindset we see today. In my opinion that has been a large part of what has created the mess our society is in.

                      One problem I do have is with Social Security. It is often lumped together with various entitlement programs. It is not that at all. Social Security recipients paid in and get back based on what they paid in. The system would be self sustaining if handled the way it originally was set up. The parts of the program that actually are just welfare should not be a part of the SS system.
                      Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Epoetker View Post
                        The start of all sorts of financial corruption happens nine times out of ten when you start listening to the voice in your head that ends sentences with "and once I got my sure thing going, I'll never have to work hard or do anything difficult again..."
                        Even if I won the lottery, I would still come to work every day. I love doing what I do, and it gives me a sense of pride when I know what I am doing is helping to make things better here.
                        That's what
                        - She

                        Without a clear-cut definition of sin, morality becomes a mere argument over the best way to train animals
                        - Manya the Holy Szin (The Quintara Marathon)

                        I may not be as old as dirt, but me and dirt are starting to have an awful lot in common
                        Stephen R. Donaldson

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Bill the Cat View Post
                          Even if I won the lottery, I would still come to work every day. I love doing what I do, and it gives me a sense of pride when I know what I am doing is helping to make things better here.
                          Not me! I would sit around all day and play on tweb.


                          ....er wait. never mind.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Epoetker View Post
                            The start of all sorts of financial corruption happens nine times out of ten when you start listening to the voice in your head that ends sentences with "and once I got my sure thing going, I'll never have to work hard or do anything difficult again..."
                            That and... "you mean I can actually launder billions in drug money, sell my customers fraudulent financial assets and just pay a fine? Cool." Or... "you mean I can take massive risks with other people's money and still get rescued with more money from other people if I fail? Cool."
                            "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jedidiah View Post
                              I have never been really bad off except while in college. I have been on unemployment (back in the day when you had a very limited time and had to document a search for employment) and I was on food stamps for a while when I first moved into town from the bush. I have no problem with the way those worked back in the day. I do not see a cell phone as a necessity, and I do not see any problem with limiting the time for unemployment to a reasonable length. I, too, only have a problem with the freeloading mindset we see today. In my opinion that has been a large part of what has created the mess our society is in.

                              One problem I do have is with Social Security. It is often lumped together with various entitlement programs. It is not that at all. Social Security recipients paid in and get back based on what they paid in. The system would be self sustaining if handled the way it originally was set up. The parts of the program that actually are just welfare should not be a part of the SS system.
                              Well, yeah, cause Social Security was supposed to be a safety net, not a hammock.
                              "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                              Comment

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